We’re about to have a World Series presidents race, and Teddy needs to win

Nationals Park is hosting its first World Series game Friday, and the national spotlight on all things Nats has never been brighter. So when the fourth inning arrives, if the team knows what’s good for them, they’ll make sure Teddy Roosevelt wins the presidents race.

Washington Nationals Teddy Roosevelt Racing Presidents Race SignsThe superstitious among us will point to Teddy’s season trajectory, which eerily mirrors that of the team. Teddy lost his first races of the season, and floundered into late May, but then ran off a five-race winning streak starting May 24 and dominated the field from that point forward and taking the season title. Sound familiar?

In the playoffs, the Nationals’ lone loss in five home games came during the NLDS, when the team inexplicably allowed Thomas Jefferson to cross the finish line first. It was the only postseason presidents race that Teddy Roosevelt didn’t win.

Now, consider the trajectory of the entire franchise. Among the worst teams in baseball from 2006 when the presidents race was first introduced, the Nationals finally had a breakout year in 2012. Over the next seven seasons, the Nationals became an elite team, winning their division four times, but still getting tagged by some as losers for failing to advance past the first round. Teddy, too, broke out in 2012, winning his first race after going winless for 6 1/2 years.

The Nats won their division again in 2014 and 2016, when Roosevelt won the presidents race season title, but much like the Nationals themselves, Teddy couldn’t shake his image as a lovable loser.

Former Nationals star Jayson Werth openly complained that the team needed to let Teddy win because Teddy represented the wrong image for a winning team. You can’t build a winning culture, he argued, around a lovable, grinning, happy-go lucky loser.

“The Presidents Race and Teddy Roosevelt are very symbolic of where this organization goes,” Werth said on ESPN. But what if Werth was right while getting it all wrong?

The Nationals spent much of the decade as the feared juggernaut of the NL East, with nothing but early exits from the playoffs to show for it. Now, through a remarkable season-long makeover, the team has emerged as the quintessential lovable, happy-go-lucky, confident sub-500 team who snuck up on the world, and on Friday bring a 2-games to none World Series lead home to Nationals Park.

They did it with group hugs. They did it with dugout dances. They did it with childrens songs about baby sharks. And looking at the numbers, perhaps they did it with the help of Teddy. Perhaps it’s finally time to recognize that there could not be a better model for the ethos of this team than a confident, happy, grinning, and winning racing president Teddy Roosevelt.

Wild indeed! Nats “Lose Control” of PA system during NL Wild Card game, run presidents race in silence, and Brittney saves the day

An hour into Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game at Nationals Park, as Max Scherzer was completing his 4th inning on the mound, the stadium’s emergency alert system malfunctioned. Alarms blared in the press box, and the stadium’s PA system went silent.
Nat Pack tries to stop Teddy Roosevelt Racing presidentsRacing president Teddy Roosevelt is sent backBrittney Saves the Daywashington Nationals Racing Presidents Lose Control

For baseball purists, it was a rare opportunity to temporarily enjoy the sounds of the game without modern “influences.”

But then the Brewers side was retired, and the Nats presidents race began.

The usual introductory video played on the Nats HD scoreboard, and the racing presidents entered through the center field gate, but there were no introductions or play-by-play to be heard from Nationals Park PA announcer Jerome Hruska. There was no “Runnin’ Down a Dream” playing by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. And when the “Secret Service” handlers placed a fake boom box on the field so that the presidents could pause and perform a dance number to “Lose Control” by Missy Elliott, there was only silence.

Without a clear Plan B, chaos ensued. Teddy Roosevelt ignored his handler’s pleas to stop, and raced past the dance spot toward the finish line, only to be stopped there by another handler. Abe Lincoln zoomed by, accidentally breaking the finish line tape; but both were sent back to the boom box to perform their dance number. Without music.

Waiting there was Nats in-game host Brittney Ramsey, who crouched on the sideline and shouted out the rhythms so the presidents could follow along and perform their dance moves while a confused sellout crowd looked on in silence.

Finally, one of the handlers yelled “Go, Teddy, Go! Finish the race!” Teddy broke for the finish line, and took the first presidents race victory of the postseason.


From DCist: An Oral History of the Nationals racing presidents, and a major first admission of conspiracy

DCist today published a wonderful Oral History of the Nationals Racing Presidents, lovingly curated by intrepid journalist Matt Blitz. including a first-ever formal admission by a team official that the fix was in for Teddy Roosevelt.

DCist Racing Presidents oral historyBlitz tells the history of the presidents race through interviews with many of the people behind the scenes and involved in its creation, revealing even a few things I hadn’t documented on our facts page, such as the inspiration that costume designer Randy Carfagno received from none other than Bette Midler.

But Blitz’s biggest “scoop” comes from Josh Golden, an ad agency executive who served as the Nats’ Director of Creative Services for the team’s first two seasons. “The first race we had George win, but we [decided] we didn’t want to go in order, so we skipped Teddy,” Golden told Blitz. “…people started emailing us, “Why hasn’t Teddy won?” There wasn’t a plan to [have Teddy lose] until those emails started coming in. By the fifth game, we had decided that Teddy isn’t going to win. Let’s make it a thing.”

Yikes. I may or may not have written a couple of those emails.

Great stuff and a worthy read.

After throwing in the towel on 2018, Washington Nationals let Teddy win

The Washington Nationals formally threw in the towel on the 2018 season Tuesday, then promptly let Teddy win.

125 games into the season, the once heavily-favored but snake bitten Nationals finally accepted the reality of their losing record and today announced trades of Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams — key players in the final year of their contracts — to the Cubs and Cardinals, while issuing a public statement of explanation and disappointment.

Teddy Roosevelt wins Nationals presidents raceThen, as if to send a message that all bets are off, they let Teddy win the presidents race.

It’s been many years now since Theodore Roosevelt’s initial epic 6 1/2 year losing streak was first broken, but Teddy returned to his consistent losing ways in 2016, and lost 86 straight heading into this year. When the Teddy won on opening day, it appeared that the team had a change of heart regarding the Bull Moose, but then the losing began again.

As chronicled in our season standings, Teddy’s misfortunes this season have been epic. He’s been slammed into the wall and attacked by swords multiple times. He’s been distracted by bowling, haircuts, hypnotism, picnics, selfies, penalty kicks, pet cats, bunnies, and the YMCA.

But after Nats ownership admitted to throwing in the towel on the playoffs, they perhaps superstitiously also took the handcuffs off Teddy, who raced from the back of the pack to run away with Tuesday’s race.

It’s too late for Roosevelt to catch Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln in the standings, but Teddy, like the Nats, have six weeks left to regain respectability.

 

On opening day, Teddy Roosevelt breaks presidents race losing streak with help from an unlikely ally

Nationals Presidents Race Opening Day Abe Cheats Teddy WinsNationals Presidents Race Opening Day Abe Cheats Teddy WinsNationals Teddy Roosevelt Masters Green JacketOn a frigid opening day at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals reversed course from last year and decided to let Teddy win, as racing president Theodore Roosevelt kicked off the season by snapping his multi-year, 86-game losing streak.

The MLB’s new pace-of-play initiatives leave little wiggle room for presidents race shenanigans, but the Nationals managed to squeeze in their fair share while Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom warmed up for the bottom of the fourth inning.

Abe Lincoln parked himself on the sidelines under section 134 as Teddy, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson began the race. Teddy fell behind the pack entering the home stretch, but that’s when the Great Emancipator, who so often has been TR’s nemesis, jumped out and clocked both George and Tom, clearing the way for a Roosevelt victory.

After he crossed the finish line to the cheers of the sellout crowd, a Secret Service Agent handed Teddy a putter. The Bull Moose than tapped in a putt on a makeshift hole and was handed a green jacket to commemorate today’s opening round of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Video for Let Teddy Win courtesy of lfahome

Data visualization guru maps Nationals presidents race results, and it’s a beautiful thing

Every year at about this time, as I prepare to archive another year’s racing president standings, I ask myself whether it’s worth it to continue the blog. Then I meet somebody  — a loyal reader who’s a team employee or a descendant of Teddy Roosevelt. Or somebody like Mike Cisneros comes along.

Cisneros is a data visualization guru. He’s head of data visualization at Evince Analytics, and waxes poetic about the art on his personal blog. When Cisneros saw the conclusions drawn by Reddit user Constant Gardner11 yesterday, utilizing ten years of data compiled here at the Let Teddy Win blog, he decided a visualization was in order.

And while it’s a beautiful thing, a few mistakes were made. Roosevelt’s epic losing streak lasted seven seasons — not five (we did not publish race-by-race results for 2016-2017, but the standings are here). And Teddy’s historic first win was not in the playoffs, but on the final day of the 2012 regular season.

And so, feeling both inspired by the beautiful and creative use of our data, and also weirdly compelled to continue to set the record straight, I’ll see you on opening day.

Washington Nationals Racing Presidents Results Data visualization

Ten years of Washington Nationals Presidents Race Data as visualized by Mike Cisneros

Yankees fan runs the numbers, concludes Nats fans should root for George, opponents should root for Teddy

On Tuesday, Reddit user and Yankees fan Constant_Gardner11 posted a detailed analysis of presidents race results during the Nationals Park era, using data we’ve collected here at Let Teddy Win. His conclusion: Nats fans should root for George Washington. Nats’ opponents should root for Teddy.

The many comments from the Reddit community show that conspiracy theories about Teddy Roosevelt remain prominent in the public eye. Of course, rooting for Teddy may be a moot point, since the powers-that-be in the Nationals front office have clearly decided never to let Teddy win again. The Bull Moose went winless last year (which didn’t seem to change the team’s playoff luck), and has lost 86 straight entering the 2018 season.

His analysis:

 

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